Cinematographer MJ Radhakrishnan died of cardiac arrest at the age of 61 in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. He was reportedly admitted to a private hospital where he was undergoing treatment.
The acclaimed cinematographer mostly worked on Malayalam films, and won the Kerala State Award seven times. He is best known for the films Deshadanam, Karunam and Naalu Pennungal.
He was born in Punalur in Kollam district, and started his career as a still photographer. Later, he moved to Thiruvananthapuram and worked with cinematographer-director Shaji N Karun on his movies. His first film as a cinematographer was Maamalakalkkapurathu, directed by Ali Akbar, which was released in 1988.
In his career of four decades he worked on 75 feature films and several documentaries, and regularly worked with Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Murali Nair, TV Chandran, Dr Biju, Jayaraj and Renjith. He was also known for collaborating with many young Malayalam film directors on their maiden films.
Radhakrishnan won the state awards for Deshadanam (1996), Karunam (1999), Adayalangal (2007), Bioscope (2008), Veetilekkulla Vazhi (2010), Akashathinte Niram (2011) and Kaadu Pookunna Neram (2016). His films also won awards at international festivals. Marana Simhasanam won him the Golden Camera Award in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Festival of 1999. Bioscope was recognised at the South Asian International Film Festival, and Papilio Buddha at the Oaxaca Film Festival.
His last films were Shaji’s Olu, starring Kanu Kasruti, Shane Nigam and Indras, and Dr Biju’s Veyil Marangal, that just won the Outstanding Artsitic Achievement Award at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Radhakrishnan is survived by his wife Sreelatha, son Yadu, who is also a cinematographer, and daughter Neeraja.
Many from the film industry tweeted condolences. Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan also offered condolences to his family and recalled his contribution to Malayalam cinema.
Director Murali Nair, who worked with Radhakrisnan on Marana Simhasam, said he was shocked by his untimely death.
Never thought this day will come. I lost a great friend. Ever since my first short, way back in 1996, we were friends and worked on many projects together. I'm shocked.
— Murali Nair (@flyingellie) July 12, 2019
Filmmaker Leena Manimakalai shared a working still from her film Sendagal, and said, “You made Indian cinema shine with your signature and mentored many indies like me with patience.”
This is a location photograph from my film Sengadal,The Deadsea with my cinematographer MJ Radhakrishan.Truly shocked by his sudden demise. In loss of words. Rest in Peace Mashe. You made Indian Cinema shine with your signature and you mentored many indies like me with patience. pic.twitter.com/Isv5e5rZLj
— Leena Manimekalai (@LeenaManimekali) July 12, 2019
Cinematographer Santosh Sivan, sound designer Resul Pookutty and director Sanjeev Sivan condoled his death.
Very sad to know that My very talented Friend , MJ Radhakrishnan ,DOP ,is no more
God Bless ? pic.twitter.com/T27kKvaL44
— SantoshSivanASC. ISC (@santoshsivan) July 12, 2019
Shocked to hear about the untimely demise of cinematographer #MJRadhakrishnan All those world you created on the silver screen now cease to exist … with tears and unimaginable pain, we say farewell to you… May your soul RIP, Amen???
— resul pookutty (@resulp) July 12, 2019
Acclaimed cinematographer MJ. Radhakrishnan passed away this evening. He was my DOP for my film Endkess summer. A fantastic human being & a great technician. RIP my friend
— Sanjeev Sivan (@SanjeevSivan1) July 12, 2019
Image Courtesy: The Hindu